The Padma Purana

by N.A. Deshpande | 1951 | 1,261,945 words | ISBN-10: 8120838297 | ISBN-13: 9788120838291

This page describes non-covetousness of a shudra which is chapter 53 of the English translation of the Padma Purana, one of the largest Mahapuranas, detailling ancient Indian society, traditions, geography, as well as religious pilgrimages (yatra) to sacred places (tirthas). This is the fifty-third chapter of the Srishti-khanda (section on creation) of the Padma Purana, which contains six books total consisting of at least 50,000 Sanskrit metrical verses.

Disclaimer: These are translations of Sanskrit texts and are not necessarily approved by everyone associated with the traditions connected to these texts. Consult the source and original scripture in case of doubt.

Chapter 53 - Non-Covetousness of a Śūdra

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

The brāhmaṇa said:

1. O lord, if you favour me, (please) tell me fully about the life and matchless prowess of the trader.

The lord said:

2. A man should give (presents) with truthfulness, without greed, and without jealousy. (It may be said) that he would thus always well-accomplish a hundred sacrifices, in which sumptuous fees are given.

3. Due to truth (alone), the sun rises; also the wind blows; the ocean would (i.e. does) not cross its boundary nor would (i.e. does) the Tortoise avert (sustaining) the earth.

4. Due to truth (alone) the worlds stand (undisturbed), and also all mountains. That being, who swerves from truth, becomes a denizen of the nether world.

5. He, who always sticks to speaking the truth, and is always engaged in (doing) truthful deeds, having physically gone to heaven, would become one with Acyuta (i.e. Viṣṇu).

6. All the sages reached me by truthfulness, and (then) final beatitude. By truthfulness (alone) king Yudhiṣṭhira physically went to heaven.

7. Having conquered the entire host of his enemies, he righteously protected the world. He also performed the difficult Rājasūya sacrifice.

8-10a. (A king) should always feed eighty-four thousand brāhmaṇas in (i.e. serving the food in) golden plates and utensils, and having fed them (like this), he should dismiss them after giving the utensils to them. He should give the brāhmaṇas wealth other than that which is liked by them. Then seeing that the host of brāhmaṇas is not poor (i.e. is rich with the gifts) he should dismiss it.

10b-c. In the same way, a king, being free from jealousy, should everyday, truthfully feed sixteen thousand snātakas.[1]

11. They have beforehand stayed in his house with a desire for his victory. He has indeed conquered the entire world due to his showing favour for their life.

12. Due to truthfulness, Bali, the demon-king, will become Indra. I again and again stay in the house of him, who dwells in Pātāla.

13. I eternally stay in the heart of him, who does meritorious deeds; and (so) I had bound him (i.e. Bali to Pātāla) after freeing him from his existence as a demon.

14-15a. I give lower position, (or) godhead, (or) the position of Indra. Due to his truthfulness, king Hariścandra became settled in the Satyaloka, with his pure body and along with his vehicles and paraphernalia.

15b-16a. Many kings, and also others who were siddhas and great sages, who were wise and ascetics became settled in the Satya(-loka).

16b. Therefore a man, who is devoted to truth, is capable of crossing the mundane existence.

17. The magnanimous trader was well-settled in true speech (i.e. spoke the truth). As far as speaking the truth is concerned, there is none else like him in the world.

18. If a thousand horse-sacrifices and truth are weighed together, truth is superior to a thousand horse-sacrifices.

19-20a. Everything would be accomplished by means of truth; a truthful man cannot be overcome. That cow Bahulā went to heaven through speaking the truth. Having put together the entire people, she would not be reborn.

20b-21. So also he always observes (but) never tells a lie. He is very clever in purchasing or selling costly or cheap things. Especially for a witness telling the truth is commendable.

22-23a. Witnesses, having told the truth (i.e. who have told the truth), have gone to the inexhaustible heaven (i.e. have eternally lived in heaven). If an eloquent speaker speaks the truth after having gone to an assembly, he goes to Brahmā’s abode (a destination) difficult (to be reached) by other sacrifices.

23b-24a. He, who speaks the truth in an assembly, would obtain the fruit of (the performance of) a horse-sacrifice. He having told a lie (i.e. who tells a lie) through greed or hatred, goes to Raurava hell.

24b-25a. The trader who witnesses everything, and who is brave among people, would become a god in heaven especially due to his having given up greed.

25b-26. A certain glorious śūdra was never greedy. He often subsisted on vegetables or gleanings of corn with great difficulty. He put on a tattered garment and always had two pots in his hand.

27-28. Always being free from greed, he did not accept others' belongings (i.e. did not accept anything from others). To know him (i.e. to test him), I took a pair of garments, and stood (waiting) with respect (for him), having kept it down the bank of a river. Having seen (i.e. though he saw) that pair of garments, he did not think (i.e. desire) to have it.

29-30. Knowing it as belonging to someone else, he patiently went home. Then, thinking that the pair of garments was insignificant, I dropped an udumbara fruit containing gold on the river-bank.

31-32. He saw that wonderful (fruit) on his way. 'It may be useful, but appears to be artificial. And if now I take it, my greedlessness has surely gone. It is hard to protect it; and it is a place of ego (i.e. would make me egoistic).

33. Where there is greed, there is acquisition; greed proceeds from acquisition. Hell is eternally to be reached by a person who is seized by greed (i.e. a person seized by greed eternally dwells in hell).

34-37a. If worthless wealth remains in our house, my wife and sons would indulge in extravagance. Due to extravagance desire springs up; due to excitement confusion of mind arises; due to confusion there are delusion and pride and then anger and greed. Due to the exuberance of these penance will perish; (and) when penance has exhausted, sins deluding the mind proceed; and bound by those chains, he never gets freedom.

37b-38. Thinking (like) this, the śūdra abandoned it, and went home. Gods, being happy, gladly said: ‘Well (done), well (done).’ Taking the form of a naked mendicant, I went to his house.

39-40. Having gone there, I talked about the past action in accordance with his destiny. Then due to (my being in) the vicinity and due to the restlessness of the people, his wife came (out), and asked about the factor that led to his luck. I then quickly told her whatever struck my mind.

41-43a. I mildly told her the cause of the noise that was in (i.e. that had occurred to) my mind. “O you illustrious one, today your husband, like an ignorant man, forsook what was given by fate; here (i.e. in this world), wealth will not come again (once it is ignored). As long as he lives, he will experience ill luck. O mother, go to your vacant house, and ask him about that (udumbara-fruit) which he did not take.”

43b-45a. Having heard those auspicious words, she approached her husband and spoke to him. Having heard the bad news, he was amazed. Having thought (for a while), with her he came to me. He mildly said to (i.e. requested) me: “O mendicant, you (please) explain it.”

The mendicant said:

45b-46a. How, O son, how did you, in contempt, ignore like a blade of grass, (the fruit) which you saw, and which for a long time was pure? So, O son, fortune is never without thorns (i.e. difficulties).

46b-47. Matchless prosperity or bravery withers. You will see (that you have caused) great grief to your relatives from their birth to their death; and you will certainly have the same course as the dead always have.

48. Therefore, quickly take it, and enjoy prosperity without any difficulty, and also matchless, excellent wealth and bravery causing wonder to the people.

The śūdra said:

49. I do not long for wealth; wealth is a trap in the mundane existence. A man who has fallen (i.e. has gone astray) in getting it, would not attain salvation.

50. (Please) listen to the defect due to wealth in this and the next world. (A man who has wealth has) fear from a thief, from (his) kinsmen, from kings and robbers also.

51-52. All mortals—(all) hosts of beasts or fish—are always longing for killing. Then how can wealth always give happiness to them who have it? Wealth ends one’s life and causes sins. It is a dear abode to death and others and a great primary cause ofadversity.

The mendicant said:

53. He, who has wealth, has friends; he, who has wealth, has relatives; (his) family (is noble); he (alone) has good character, wisdom, handsomeness, enjoyments, success and happiness.

54. How can he, who is without money, andwho is forsaken by his sons and wife, have friends? How can such wretched people have good deeds in (their) life?

55. Good deeds like sacrifice etc. are helpful. Giving (gifts) is a staircase (leading) to heaven. This is not possible in the case of a person having no money.

56. Preserving and performing vows, listening amply to (accounts about) dharma etc., offering sacrifices (i.e. śrāddhas) to manes, (visiting) sacred places are not possible for a man having no wealth.

57. Similarly, remedy for a disease, wholesome diet, collection of medicines, protection, fight with and victory over enemies are certainly not possible for such a man.

58. The livelihood of women during their life is had by wealth only; and also good or bad deeds of the past, future and present (times) are possible (by means of wealth alone).

59. Therefore, he, who has ample wealth, can have enjoyments as he likes. By giving (wealth) you will soon obtain heaven from (i.e. after going from) here (i.e. this world).

The śūdra said:

60-61. Every vow is (performed) if there is absence of desire (i.e. absence of desire is a vow in itself). Living at a sacred place is due to absence of anger (i.e. absence of anger is residence at a sacred place). Kindness is like muttering prayers; and contentment is pure wealth. Harmlessness is the greatest achievement; and living by gleaning corn is excellent. Eating vegetarian food or fasting is like (drinking) nectar, O you, who torment your enemies.

62. Contentment is my great enjoyment; and a cowrie is my great gift To me the wife of another man is like my mother, and wealth of others is like a clod.

63. Others’ wives are like serpents; all this is my sacrifice. Therefore, O you mine of virtues, I do (i.e. did) not take it. (I am telling you) the truth, and truth (only).

64a. It is better to keep away from mud and not to touch it than wash the hands after touching it.

64b-65. When, O best man, he spoke like this, shower of flowers thrown by all gods fell on his head and body. The gods beat the drums, and the hosts of the celestial damsels danced.

66-6 7. The chiefof Gandharvas sang (songs in his praise), and an aeroplane came down from heaven. The hosts of gods there said: “Get into this aeroplane. Reaching Satyaloka, enjoy pleasures like the great Indra. O you righteous one, there would be no counting of the time for which you will enjoy.”

68-69. When the gods had spoken like this, the śūdra said (these) words: “How can this mendicant have (such) knowledge, (such) action, and (such) speech? Is he Hari (i.e. Viṣṇu), or Hara (i.e. Śiva), or Brahmā, or Indra or Bṛhaspati, or Dharma himself that has come here to deceive me?”

70. When (the śūdra) had spoken like this, the mendicant said (these) words with a smile: “I am Viṣṇu; I have come here to know about your righteousness.

71-72a. O great sage, go, along with your family, to heaven, by this aeroplane. O you highly intelligent one, by my favour, you will always be youthful; and will have endless good fortune”.

72b-73a. Surrounded by all their relatives, they endowed with divine ornaments and adorned with divine garments, suddenly went to heaven.

73b. Thus, O best among excellent brāhmaṇas, by giving up greed they went to heaven.

74. Similarly, that trader is intelligent and is established in true righteousness, by which (i.e. due to this) he knows that account which took place in (some) other country.

75. There is none else like the trader, who is well established in heaven. Therefore, O brāhmana, you too, go similarly to heaven.

76. The sin committed in existence after existence of that mortal (i.e. man), who, well-settled in all his duties, listens to this account, perishes in a moment.

77. O brāhmaṇa, even by reciting it only once, before people, a man would get the fruit of all sacrifices and would be honoured (even) by gods.

Footnotes and references:


Snātaka—One who has bathed i.e. performed ablutions, i.e. a brāhmaṇa, who, after performing the ceremonial lustrations required on his finishing his studentship as a brahmacārin under a religious teacher, returns home and begins the second stage of his life as a gṛhastha.

There are three kinds of Snātakas:

  1. Vidyāsnātaka (as above);
  2. Vratasnātaka—one who has completed the vows such as fasting, continence etc. without the Vedas;
  3. Ubhayavratasnātaka—who has both the qualifications of Vidyāsnātaka and Vratasnātaka.
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